The 189 member nations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have agreed a document aimed at moving the world closer to nuclear disarmament.
The declaration -- agreed by consensus May 28 at the close of a monthlong review of the NPT at the United Nations in New York -- includes a call to open talks in 2012 toward a ban on nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
Rivals Iran and Israel would be expected to attend those talks.
The final declaration does not include any mention of Iran as the only NPT member nation that has been found to be in noncompliance with its UN nuclear safeguards obligations.
Iran denies allegations that its nuclear work is aimed at the eventual production of a nuclear weapon.
The 28-page declaration also calls on the five recognized nuclear weapon states -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- to commit to speed up their cuts of nuclear arms.
But no firm timetable for the five to make reductions was included in the document.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher said the United States would work to help organize a successful conference on creating a nuclear-free Middle East.
But she said the possibility of holding such a conference has been jeopardized because the final document calls on Washington's ally Israel, a suspected nuclear power, to join the NPT -- a move that would require Israel to destroy any nuclear arms it possesses.
"The parties should know that we take seriously our commitments with respect to this regional conference, and we will work with the countries in the region to create conditions for a successful conference,” Tauscher said. “We note, however, that our ability to do so has been seriously jeopardized because the final document singles out Israel in the Middle East section -- a fact that the United States deeply regrets."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the declaration, calling it a "significant agreement to build a safer and more secure world."
compiled from agency reports